Dogs play a number of important roles for the military, from bomb detection to rescue missions. Now, DARPA (the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency) is relying on cutting-edge canine research to propose a new method of choosing the best dogs.
Scientists have trained dogs to sit still in MRIs so their brains can be scanned, and have noted which areas of the brain light up when responding to cues from a handler. That, think military planners, could help them spot the dogs that will respond best to training.
They also hope that these scans will help them identify “brain hyper-social dogs,” those that are especially attuned to human emotion. Those dogs would be ideal therapy partners for servicemembers being treated for PTSD or brain injuries.
All of this is still in the theoretical stage, but it’s a safe bet that the military will be continuing to use dogs well into the future.